Thank you to everyone who helped contribute to this investigation. At this point, attorneys working with ClassAction.org have decided to close their investigation into this matter. Our open list of investigations can be viewed here. The information below was posted when the investigation began and exists for reference only.
At A Glance
This Alert Affects:
Anyone who owns a Tesla Model S or X built in March 2018 or earlier and experienced issues with their vehicle’s touchscreen or “media control unit.”
What’s Going On?
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating whether a defect is causing a host of problems with the vehicles’ touchscreens. They’re looking to file a class action lawsuit over the issue, but first need to hear from drivers who had their touchscreens stop working, freeze, turn black or otherwise malfunction.
How a Class Action Could Help
A class action lawsuit could help force Tesla to offer a fix for the issue and compensate drivers who had to pay out of pocket to have their touchscreens replaced.
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating whether they can file a class action lawsuit over a reported issue with the touchscreens – or “media control units” – in Tesla Model S and X vehicles built before March 2018.
To assist with their investigation, they would like to speak to anyone who owns or leases one of these vehicles and had their touchscreen:
Freeze, “lock up” or “go blank”
Turn black (an issue known by some drivers as “the black screen of death”)
Fail to turn on
Display a “touchscreen unresponsive” message
Stop working completely
What’s Said to Be Causing the Touchscreen Issues?
It is believed that the touchscreen issue stems from the flash memory chip Tesla used in certain model years of the Model S and Model X vehicles. Reports have suggested that the memory chips are too small for their intended purpose and can wear out prematurely due to the excessive number of logs being written.
This can reportedly lead to issues with the touchscreen, which get progressively worse until the unit fails completely.
When a touchscreen fails, several essential vehicle functions – including certain safety features – become inaccessible and unusable. These features include, but are not limited to, GPS, climate control, rearview camera, exterior lighting, warning notifications, self-driving mode and more.
In June 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it would be looking into the premature failure of the media control units in 2012-2015 Tesla Model S vehicles due to “memory wear-out.”
The suit claims that Tesla is – or should be – aware of the problem from warranty claims and consumer complaints that were posted online, sent directly to the company and/or collected by the NHTSA.
A sample of consumer complaints regarding the touchscreen issue can be found below [sic throughout].
My car's center screen console stopped working after an update. I could not reset it and so it stays blank using reset instructions from Tesla. I do not have access to my turn signals, backup camera, cabin and climate controls making it less safe for the vehicle to operate…I believe and based on conversation with tesla this is an MCU problem with they have me pay $2500 to upgrade...” — 2016 Model S driver, Freemont, CA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
After more than 4 years, and only 30,000 miles, we got our first ‘Touchscreen Unresponsive’ error message and learned how to re-boot the touchscreen. It happened occasionally for a couple of years, always in the garage while it was parked overnight. Then, about a six months ago the frequency started to increase. It happens about 1/3 of the time, lately, including after short parking intervals while running errands.” — mallynb, Forums.Tesla.com
My main screen would completely go black randomly and when that happens my instrument cluster in front of me would also go black and as a result I can’t see how fast I’m going or my blind spots or anything really.” — 2017 Model S driver, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Twice recently while driving on highway at night, the car computer started failing. Lights went out, turn signals didn't work, eventually the whole screen and dashboard that let you drive turned blank. I had to find a way to quickly pull to the side of the road and reset the car by pressing and holding the two buttons on steering wheel. This is a very unsafe condition.” — 2018 Model S driver, Winnetka, IL, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Failure and replacement of MCU touchscreen panel in my model X. Could not safely operate the vehicle because I was unable to extend side mirrors, use back-up camera, turn on/off ac or heating or use navigation. Other safety features requiring using or seeing the touchscreen panel were not accessible. Vehicle 7 weeks out of 3 year warrantee but only had 20,039 miles on it. Tesla said I needed to play for a new touchscreen panel. After a strenuous discussion tesla agreed to discount the repair by 50%. I still had to pay $841.63 for something I felt was a safety issue.” — 2016 Model X driver, Danville, CA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Allegedly, drivers who experienced problems with their touchscreens have been told by Tesla that they have two options: they can wait for an update that offers a fix or have their touchscreens replaced – a repair that costs thousands of dollars. The issue with getting the screen replaced, however, is that the unit is being replaced “with equally defective parts, leaving consumers caught in a cycle of use, malfunction and replacement,” according to one class action lawsuit.
How a Class Action Could Help
A class action lawsuit could help Tesla drivers get back the money they spent replacing their touchscreens. A successful case could also force Tesla to find a fix for the issue.